An Open Letter to Myself

To A Dark Girl

I love you for your brownness,
And the rounded darkness of your breast,
I love you for the breaking sadness in your voice
And shadows where your wayward eyelids rest.Something of old forgotten queens
Lurks in the lithe abandon of your walk
And something of the shackled slave
Sobs in the rhythm of your talk.Oh, little brown girl, born for sorrow’s mate,
Keep all you have of queenliness,
Forgetting that you once were slave,
And let your full lips laugh at Fate!
-Gwendolyn Bennet (1927)
I started with this Bennet poem because it resonates with me. Sometimes I have to remind myself about myself. Usually it’s easy for others to see my dopeness when I’m blinded to its potential. Bennet’s poem brings somethings to the surface for me.
It reminds me to love myself. It reminds me that I’ve come from a lineage of women who’ve beat the odds in their respective times. That I have the potential to walk among the greats and rub elbows with kings and queens. Though Bennet says “Something of old forgotten queens” it doesn’t take away from their queenly nature. I’m reminded of the power of my walk. The importance of my being on my generation and the tenacity to overcome.
Though Bennet’s poem was directly about slave women who struggled post-slavery, it is still relevant to anyone who is struggling with their image. Forget that you were a slave to all the insecurity, the pain, the hurtful thoughts and believe that you can be better. It’s okay to struggle, but it’s never okay to stay there.

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